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Dear Brigham: To “Hold Base and Oppressive Men in Wholsome Check”

By: Ardis E. Parshall - October 03, 2011

I know absolutely nothing about a “military suffrage bill” issued from “division headquarters” in San Jose, California in 1872. Nor do I know a thing about the “True Army of the Republic” which the writer of the following letter claimed to represent.

I do know a nut when I see one, though.

Hon. Sir!

It appears that his Exelency Gov. Wood has resolved to call togather the [Utah] Ter. Legislature. We have recommended to his serious consideration the (Military Suffrage Bill) as isued from the division headquarters “ie” (San Jose Cal.) Aug 18th 1872. We presume your Reverence is familiar with the principles involved and we hope for your harty cooperation and perhaps history will recor[d] that in Utah the grand principiles of organization so potent in war were for the first time adopted in peace Our council have under consideration ways & means for the revival of the (Common Law right of Trial by Combat) believing it would hold base and oppressive men in wholsome check & often prevent war

Very Truly,



1 Comment »

  1. Well, as you have already probably done, a google search of “military suffrage bill” doesn’t turn up much. But the concept of the Common Law Right of Trial by Combat was a medieval legal remedy for disputes in which there was no evidence or witnesses, in which the two “plaintiffs” would fight and the winner was considered to be the party that was right.

    I did find a story about a 60 year old man from England who was disputing a small traffic fine, and asked under this common law right for a trial by combat with any clerk from the department of licensing. Here’s a quote from the story:

    Magistrates sitting at Bury St Edmunds on Friday had disagreed and instead of accepting his offer to take on a clerk from Swansea with “samurai swords, Ghurka knives or heavy hammers”, fined him £200 with £100 costs.

    That might indeed “hold base and oppressive men in wholsome check”.

    Comment by kevinf — October 3, 2011 @ 10:28 am

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